A customer selects haircare products at a supermarket in Shanghai. [Asianewsphoto]
Consumers could turn their backs on US manufacturer Procter and Gamble (P&G) and British firm Unilever after they raised prices in July on consumer goods by up to 20 percent in China to offset surging raw materials costs.
That's according to a recent Sina.com suvey. More than 84 percent of 3,042 respondents surveyed by the website said the price hike was 'unreasonable', while 87 percent threatened to switch to cheaper brands.
'Committed users are normally more tolerant to short-term changes in variables such as pricing. However, if the international brands remain unfavorably priced compared to local brands in the long term, consumers are likely to re-evaluate and may shift,' Ashok Sethi, regional director of TNS, a UK-based market research and business information services provider, said.
'Even if the loss of current customers is limited, the increased price may slow further acquisitions by the brands,' Sethi added.
Xu Ailu is loyal to several P&G haircare brands, but her commitment is waning after the recent price hike.
'I rushed to the nearest supermarket to buy up Pantene shampoos when I heard P&G would raise prices,' the 29-year-old, who works for a fashion design company in Shanghai, said.
'Prices are still affordable, but if they rise beyond 30 percent, which is my upper limit, I will definitely shift to other brands that are more reasonably priced,' she said.
Li Hui, a 27-year-old college teacher, said if P&G prices go up again she will also consider turning to local brands.
Analysts said Chinese consumers would also shift toward local brands out of national allegiance, particularly after the success of the Beijing Olympics.
Shoppers who prefer local brands far outnumber those who choose foreign products for most consumer goods, according to a recent survey by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
Over half the Sina.com respondents said they were more likely to buy Chinese brands if their prices remain stable.